We talk quite a bit about parenting here, and how as parents we can be a force in keeping our children drug-free. Sometimes, though, it is so hard to relate to our teen or feel like we are getting through.
How do you keep in touch with a moody, hormone-ridden, know-it-all teen? Below are four suggestions to help you out.
Find ways to stay connected. The things you used to do together may no longer be as fun for either of you. Playing family games, going to the park, or going to a movie with the family may become uncool to your teen. But you could spend time going to a local sports game, learning a new hobby or skill together, or shopping or eating out with your teen.
Find ways to show interest. Just because your teen might not want to see a movie with you right now or let you go everywhere with them doesn’t mean they don’t want you to know about the things they are interested in. Find what is important to your teen and what they want to share with you, and ask them about it. Don’t pry or meddle; just be open, and most importantly, listen. Sometimes we finally get a teen to open up and talk because we’ve found the conversation they are interested in, and then we stop listening. So maybe you don’t really care about what clothes a certain guy at school was wearing yesterday, or the cool science experiment they got to do, but for the sake of your relationship, you need to listen when your child talks about these things.
Have friends over. It is important to get to know your teen’s friends. The best way to do this is to invite them over to your house. Work on making your house the fun place where all the kids want to spend time. You don’t need to have all the latest video games or toys (although having some cool stuff would help), but you do have to be welcoming. A pleasant smile, friendly conversation, maybe a pizza or two, and then the freedom to hang out in an area on their own goes a long way. Always be home when your teen has friends over, and supervise what they are doing, but you don’t need to hover or intrude on their conversations.
Enlist some help around the house. Just because your child is now a teen, don’t let them stop doing chores. Keep a regular list of things you expect your teen to do around the house, and follow through with it. Teach them responsibility and hard work. Teach them how to maintain a house themselves by doing things like painting or helping with minor repairs.
Working on these things with your teen will help improve your relationship. It will also give you many opportunities to talk to them about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Don’t let the chance for meaningful conversation slip by. Parents who stay connected with their teen and who talk to them about things like drugs will be much more successful in keeping their kids drug-free.